I have this bad habit of avoiding uncomfortable situations. Like at all costs. I
blame credit this to my lovely and highly non confrontational parents (whom I love to pieces).
Then I married into a culture of exclamations. M and I’s early arguments, often in public, would usually include me crying (literally) “why are you shouting at me?!?” and him
shouting passionately exclaiming “But I’m not shouting!!”
Opposites attract much?
16 years later, I’m relatively well versed in the difference between shouting and passionate exclamations, but my aversion to awkward moments remains intact in pretty much all areas of my life.
Don’t get me wrong – I have no problem asserting my opinions about things in an environment of open dialog, or when my opinion is invited. Where I
often stumble fall flat on my face is when it comes to conversations of a more subjective nature, especially if I anticipate the other party’s resistance/embarrassment/desired avoidance.
My solution until very recently? Don’t bring it up.
That’s right, no talking politics with the conservative members of my family. Unhappy about something in a close relationship? Easier to get over it/sweep it under the rug than to start a conversation that might go wrong. Unsure of what to say to a stranger at a party? Seems like a good time to check in with my newsfeed! OMG – did I just hear a fart? Let’s just pretend nothing happened!
Funny enough, it was farts and poop that provided the first crack in the wall of my awkward aversion. See, I spent two years as a Health Coach in the practice of Dr. Frank Lipman. If you know anything about Dr. Lipman, you may know that as a functional medicine doctor, he is going to want to hear about your digestive health. What’s the easiest guide to that? The quality of your poop & the nature of your gas. #truestory
You may also know that Dr. Lipman is a rather expensive, high profile doctor.
And so, for two years, putting very important New Yorkers at ease about talking about their poop became part of my day-to-day duties (sorry – pun intended). For a girl who’s family did little more than allude to the P word, even in the most obvious situations, you can imagine the potential for awkward moments here.
I can’t lie – at first I had to employ all of my former acting skills to appear cool about it. But very quickly I discovered it was actually totally fine and very very normal. And also, I noticed the less awkward I felt about it, the more at ease everyone else was about it too.
Wait – is the awkward all in my mind?!?
Unfortunately, that little beam of light wasn’t enough for me to break free of the fear of awkward. But then 2015 was a journey in getting cozy with my fears, and I started to notice this one playing out regularly.
I don’t like it. That’s not #BeautifulonPurpose.
So my goal for 2016 is to bring on the awkward. To lean in when I feel that catch in my heart that says, this might not be safe! Don’t bring it up! Hide! To take a deep breath, set my emotional charge aside, and address whatever the situation is bringing up for me with curiosity. To give it voice, and to be curious about how it’s playing out for the other person as well.
So far what I’m finding is that just like poop talk, most of the awkward moments I fear turn out to be totally fine. Actually they’re even better than totally fine. They’re a perfect opportunity to choose #connectionoverfear.
And more connected is exactly how I’ve been feeling. Not just to people in my world, but to mySelf too. #magic